The Mormon Patriarchy and Feminism

by Frank Brosell

Feminism today and when it was first created, has only served to intentionally divide the family.

How does feminism divide the family?  Is that the end-game for the feminist movement, even today?  We live in a world where even asking the question is blasphemy because, according to modern day feminists, “There was no other way to grant women the right to vote! The ends justified the means!” What if I told you that was a lie? What if I told you that there is in fact a group of women in our own nation’s illustrious history, who were granted suffrage without a single chant or a single protest?

Before I tell you who they are, we need to go back in time to understand what first-wave feminism meant to those who were forced to live through it, and understand through their eyes all of the implications it carried.  We need to come to terms with a few basic realities of the day.

Early Americans Were Smarter Than You (Politically)

First-wave feminism started on the heels of giving black men the right to vote.  Early Americans were by necessity very aware of their political environment. They fought a revolutionary war against a tyrannical state in the name of freedom.  And they knew what that freedom meant. Then they fought a civil war that told them how that freedom ought to be properly expressed.  The Constitution was a document of wonder that was read daily.  It was analyzed and scrutinized in every news cycle. It was praised and condemned ritually by the public square.  But its contents were not mysterious. For example, there was not a single American alive then who suffered from the delusion that they lived under a direct democracy (i.e. popular vote).  They knew that they were living under a government formed by a representative republic. They all understood how the Electoral College worked, and it made sense to them. They were aware that not just any man could (or should) have the right to have his individual vote heard.  He had to be twenty-one. In the beginning he even had to own land.  And he could not be a felon. In other words, he had to have made something of himself and have some skin in the game.  What was also understood is that when a man gained this privilege to vote via amendment, it was still presumed that he voted as a Representative of his interests.  He voted as a Representative of his land, his business, his workers, and much more importantly, his family. Traits that today, you might be hard pressed to find.

Colonial Patriarchy Was Not Dead

In fact, one could say that in early America the first wave of feminism was completely dependent on, and held back by, the societal norms of former-motherland England.  This was a society where a woman’s husband was in essence her second father. She had to rely on him for practically everything. And if she couldn’t, it was because he was poor, not because high society didn’t expect it of him.  Most rank-and-file first-wave feminists were affluent wives of well-off husbands who took care of their every need. There were of course a few exceptions within the top leadership, Susan B. Anthony being the premier example. But she was the exception, not the rule.  The typical feminist was more akin to Lucretia Mott and her wealthy husband James Mott, who almost single-handedly bankrolled the first few years of feminist activism and chaired the Seneca Falls Convention. The first jolts of controversy and activism from feminism came from the drawing rooms of bored, wealthy housewives who benefitted from this residual colonial patriarchal structure, but without the modern benefit of daytime television.

This is not to say that Colonial Patriarchy was a good thing.  It was limited in how both sexes could effectively contribute to society and the economy.  The problem was early feminists tried to destroy colonial patriarchy while being fed from its table.  It’s not complicated to figure out why so few took them seriously.

The Industrial Revolution Was Not Mainstream

This is an important one that we too often take for granted.  So many advances in technology that are critical to our individual independence simply had not arrived yet for mass consumption.  Thomas Edison had just barely invented the light bulb, and the first car was a long way off. A simple task like lighting the house was a daytime chore that had to be repeated often enough so one was not left in the dark.  Literally. The tangible dependence the voting man had upon his laborers, children, and most critically, his wife, was an unspoken law to those who lived through such times. The cow had to be milked, the butter had to be churned, the candles wicked, laundry had to be hand-scrubbed and hung out to dry (pray it doesn’t rain on laundry day), food had to be cooking constantly through-out the day, clothes were mended by hand, and this was just for the personal household.  This does not include the duties of his business or tending to his land. There were no tractors, riding lawn mowers or weed-whackers. There were no credit cards or any form of electronic transaction. Many bartered, otherwise, one had to physically deliver cold coin to the bank. That was a chore too, and one of the most dangerous at that. Men and women needed one another in these times more desperately than we can imagine today.

It was in this environment that feminism first reared its ugly head.

Feminism Serves Only To Divide The Family

At the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, three hundred people attended to vote upon a Declaration of Sentiments, most of which passed unanimously until the last sentiment…women’s suffrage.  Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglass debated the issue heatedly. It was Douglass’ argument for suffrage that swayed the vote toward adopting suffrage as an official tenet of the women’s rights movement.  

But why was this considered controversial?  And from a fellow woman arguing against it no less?  Well, because at the time, saying a woman had no need to vote was not a statement of bigotry.  It was a practical fact of life. Please consider carefully all of the above information and realize what it meant.  Women lived in adherence to a carried-over patriarchal society, in a new government where the right to vote was symbolic and representative, in a time when travel was arduous and time consuming, and when the travails of daily life mandated constant vigilance and discipline…when, how and why would a woman cast a vote?  She was represented by her husband or father. She lived in a time when casting a ballot usually meant out-of-town travel. Election season was the season she would be most needed to ensure the day-to-day chores and duties were at least maintained just to keep the house running. Casting a vote that differed from that of her husband who voted for his interests would most assuredly cancel out a vote for their family.

Why else would the woman stand and declare that she too must go to the ballot box, if not to defy her husband or father?  And at what cost was she willing to go and do so? At what injury was she willing to inflict upon those she knew relied so heavily upon her?

These were the thoughts that crossed the minds of both men and women when these “sentiments” were ratified.  Any reasonable person would have cause to be concerned. And the first feminists did not help. The quote “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” is very real.  Even early feminism had no qualms using “female emancipation” as a tool to spurn the delicate balance of family life by vilifying the dependence of women in the name of equality.  

Other key issues were buried by this screeching for suffrage. Important issues like the right to own property and the right to work.

Feminism was not popular among women, because it was not feminine.

The Mormon Patriarchy:  A Different Approach

The Seneca Falls Convention convened in 1848.  The feminist movement got women the right to vote nationally in 1919.  It took them seventy-one years of rallying and marching and protesting to be heard and have their demands met. The best the feminists could do was seventy one years.   Was that was the best there was to offer? No.

In 1870, all of the women in the Utah Territory already had secured the right to vote.  Because that was how the Mormons wanted it. They were the first women to vote in a national election, and it was granted without a single protest or rally.  Admittedly though, there was plenty of marching. A lot of marching. Nearly a nationwide march that started from New York to Ohio to Missouri, then back to Illinois and finally a long winters march through the mountains to the Utah Valley.  Obviously, this was not a “Women’s March.” It was men, women and children fleeing persecution and death.

While in the Utah Valley, several unknown women rose to prominence.  Women like Zina D. H. Young. Who, in 1872, helped establish Deseret Hospital in Salt Lake City and served on its board of directors and for twelve years as president of that hospital, the first woman at least in America to serve as the president of a hospital.  Also Eliza R. Snow who served in The Relief Society, which sent women to medical school, trained nurses, opened the Deseret Hospital, operated cooperative stores, promoted silk manufacture, saved wheat, and built granaries. In 1872, Snow provided assistance and advice to Louisa L. Greene in the creation of a woman’s publication loosely affiliated with the Relief Society—the Woman’s Exponent. Snow’s responsibilities also extended to young women and children within the Mormon Church.

This, and several stories about how these Mormon women performed miracles, gave birth, and were organized to provide effective relief at a moment’s notice, long before having an established home in Utah, makes one wonder:  Where does this strength come from? Where was the oppression from the men? How did they do it?

Well they didn’t do it.  And neither did feminism.  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was formed in 1830 by a man named Joseph Smith Jr.  And it was a new and strange religion with a new book and bizarre doctrines that most balked at. But one thing Smith and his converts had to do, was continually move out and away from the societal norms of the old Colonial Patriarchy, and away from the feminists screeching within it.  They left for the raw and untamed West to forge their own new, unique and American identity.

The Utah History Encyclopedia notes, “In sharp contrast to the long fight for women’s suffrage nationally, the vote came to Utah women in 1870 without any effort on their part. It had been promoted by a group of men who had left the Mormon church, the Godbeites, in their Utah Magazine, but to no immediate effect. At the same time, an unsuccessful effort to gain the vote for women in Utah territory had been launched in the East by anti-polygamy forces; they were convinced that Utah women would vote to end plural marriage if given the chance. Brigham Young (the 2nd Prophet and Governor of the Territory) and others realized that giving Utah women the vote would not mean the end of polygamy, but it could change the predominant national image of Utah women as downtrodden and oppressed and could help to stem a tide of anti-polygamy legislation by Congress. With no dissenting votes, the territorial legislature passed an act giving the vote (but not the right to hold office) to women on 10 February 1869. The act was signed two days later by the acting governor, S. A. Mann, and on 14 February, the first woman voter in the municipal election reportedly was Sarah Young, grandniece of Brigham Young.”

The Mormon Patriarchy Ordains The Relief Society

If you were to believe the feminist propaganda that the Western States were more open to women’s rights because of “open-mindedness and progressivism”, you are missing the forest for the trees.  Women were not granted the right to vote because of man’s goodwill and exposure to fresher air. The women of the west were granted the right to vote because the men were far more inclined to reward them for helping them build civilization from the ground up.  

Mormons were no exception to this phenomenon, with a slight caveat.  Joseph Smith Jr. organized the women under the Priesthood (also referred to as “The Patriarchal Order”) and made them an integral part of the faith.  And this organization was called The Relief Society.

According to Charity Never Faileth: History of the Relief Society, “In the spring of 1842 Sarah Granger Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret A. Cook, discussed combining their efforts to sew clothing for workers constructing the Latter Day Saints’ Nauvoo Temple. They determined to invite their neighbors to assist by creating a Ladies’ Society. Kimball asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution and by-laws for the organization for submission to President of the Church Joseph Smith for review. After reviewing the documents, Smith called them “the best he had ever seen” but said, “this is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord , and He has something better for them than a written constitution. … I will organize the women under the priesthood after a pattern of the priesthood… Smith stated “the object of the Society—that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor—searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants—to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties, etc., in their public teaching.”

Today The Relief Society stands as the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world.  This organization, with the added doctrines of men and women being of equal worth in the sight of God, and many other additional instructions given in the very same temples they were now laboring to build, created a uniquely strong bond between the men and women of the faith.

The Mormon Mistake

Not all movements are perfect, and this one is no exception.  We can see the good that was achieved by the Mormons. That they left the old ways of societal norms and expectations, left for the west often with nothing more than what they could carry or push on a handcart, and left as equals betwixt men and women.  They had to learn to grow and survive together. They had to learn to honor and accentuate each other’s strengths, and they had to learn how to cover for the others weaknesses, without resentment, blame or guilt. So where did they go wrong?

Their only fault comes in 1889, when Edmunds-Tucker antipolygamy act of 1887 stripped Utah of both the women’s right to vote and stripped Utah of it’s statehood. They then joined the National Woman Suffrage Association.  They did so in good faith and naivety. But the damage can clearly be seen. The real story of how Mormon men and women grew together has been lost to history. It would only be replaced by a mask of lies created by feminists both past and modern, for no more noble a cause than blatant misandry.  

The truth is that Mormon women gained their right to vote long before the rest of this country, because they earned it.  They were better than the feminists on the east coast. They were better than the spoiled and pampered housewives still coddled by the old culture and old money and old traditions.  Mormon women were more intelligent, resourceful and had stronger constitutions and deeper grit than any first-wave feminist shouting and waving signs. Mormon women were forged by blazing the pioneer trails that headed west. Their vote was not a right.  It was a privilege granted to safeguard the values that made them who they are. It was a trust that they would act with their conscience to preserve those values. That is why they were granted the right to vote. That is why both before and after gaining the vote, Mormon women continued to perform and serve in prestigious positions of power and industry within the Utah state.  It was simply a part of who they are.

The Western Solution

In our culture today we are again confronted with strange language and calls for equality.  Even today we are bombarded with messages filled with vitriol, hate, and disgust at the patriarchy.    Even today we are again attacked on all sides by screaming masses of malcontented parasites who want that which they have not earned.  Even today, feminism continues it’s assault on the family and everything that has made us great.

The solution is not to hate in return.  The solution is to do as the Mormons did and rediscover the raw and untamed West, forging a new, unique and American identity for ourselves.  You might not be able to physically move further West, but in this new and ever changing world there is a frontier with your name on it, where you and yours, your wife, your husband, can go out and rediscover for yourselves the truth of men and women.  Rediscover the power that a nuclear family can have on our society and economy. Rediscover the greatness of American grit and American ingenuity.

So despite the reality of feminism and its obvious and clear agenda to divide the family, we can look back to our history and know that there has always been a better way.